LOS BAÑOS, Laguna — Youth groups in the University of the Philippines-Los Baños continued to denounce the 300-percent tuition hike in UP that has taken effect this semester, saying the increase caused “disenfranchisement of poor but deserving students.”
The number of freshmen who enrolled this semester was very low and this was caused by the hasty implementation of the tuition increase, Christine Macabetcha, spokesperson of the alliance Save Our Education Movement (Soem), told the Inquirer.
She said the tuition hike had discouraged the freshmen to enroll in UP.
The Soem, formed just last May during the enrollment of UP freshmen, is a network of parents, teachers, workers, and students opposing “state abandonment of education” and tuition increases.
Records obtained by the UP Office of the Student Regent from the University Registrar’s Office showed that some 16.67 percent of the 2,352 UP College Admission Test passers for UPLB campus confirmed enrollment this semester.
UP student regent Terry Ridon also reported that the big percentage of the first-qualifiers who deferred enrollment was the consistent trend observed in all UP units.
In UP Mindanao campuses, some 83.24 percent UP qualifiers deferred enrollment this semester.
The UPLB registrar refused to give the Inquirer the exact number of freshmen who enrolled this semester.
“(The tuition increase in UP) contradicts the purpose of UP as a state university. It should provide education to intelligent students regardless of their financial capacity,” Macabetcha said.
Leo Fuentes, student council chairman, warned the UP administration that students would lead a series of mobilizations and rallies this semester as they had received many complaints from parents and students through a survey they conducted.
Thus, he said, they were able to forge an alliance among parents, students, and teachers during the freshmen enrollment last May.
He noted that many parents told them they were not aware of the tuition increase, so, they were forced to get loans, enabling them to pay the P21,000 to P45,000 tuition needed for 18 to 21 units.
Others were not fully oriented on the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP), a scholarship program so they paid the full amount of tuition.
Fuentes added that in the survey, many parents remarked that the tuition was too high for a state university and they doubted their ability to sustain the schooling of their child in UP.
“What is appalling is the provision included in the (implementing guidelines) of the tuition increase allowing the UP administration to automatically increase tuition based on the national inflation rate every year,” he noted.
UPLB Chancellor Luis Rey Velasco refused to be interviewed but said, “I don’t think so,” when asked to give a reaction to the students’ claim.